I am lousy at mental geography, I am the first to admit it. But this morning I was faced with just how bad it was. It was 6:20am and I was working from my home office and talking with someone in Brazil. I am in the Eastern Time Zone in the United States. I indicated some surprise that she was also working so early ( heck, the truth is, we all work odd hours and around the clock, but it is more polite to notice it and compliment your co-worker for those sorts of things). She responded that it was not early there, it was almost 9:30 am. My brain froze. I thought I was talking with someone in Brazil, but wasn’t Brazil pretty much directly south of me? Mexico is an hour to the west, and Brazil goes back east again…. in my mental map, we were pretty much aligned. Where did our company have an office that was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? 3 hours later was 3/5 of the way to England… “I am in Brazil”, she responded. “ahhh.. ” I answered, my brain being too busy re-drawing mental maps to say anything witty.
We finished our call and then I sat there, pondering the huge-ness of South America and the fact that the eastern most part of South America juts out 3 Time Zones further into the the Atlantic Ocean than the East Coast of the US. True confession that some may call shameful, but I had NO clue. Somehow, with the North/South offset Between Europe and South America, their relative closeness in the East/West direction just never clicked.
In a world of teleconferenced business deals, the fact that Brazil does a tremendous amount of business with Europe suddenly makes a LOT more sense. Now, be honest– did this reset Your mental map, too?